Sunday, October 2, 2016

Five Ways to Make Busy Mornings Easier

I think most parents have been in the situation of having mornings that are frantic or anxiety-filled or full of frustration. Mornings that can end in tears with both the parents and children feeling lousy about the start for the day.

Mornings, particularly during the school year, can be challenging at many homes. If you are experiencing this, you are certainly not alone. I know that the commercials and sitcoms show parents that are perfectly dressed in tidy business suits baking up pancakes and bacon for their smiling, happy, easy-to-wake-up children. Maybe there are actual, live houses in which this is a reality but I know that I certainly have never been in a home like this!

I have three children, all at different developmental stages- grade school, middle school and high school. The struggles for each of them are different, both because of ages and personalities. I also have a highly sensitive child who experiences anxiety in the morning, particularly around school. There have been times that my heart would start racing at the sound of my morning alarm as, even in the very first moments of the day, I was feeling anxiety and dread at what was to come over the next couple of hours. It is a terrible feeling and horrible way to start the day.

I've learned a lot about how to support my children in the morning to ensure a smoother start for all of us. I'm still learning. I'm sharing today the tips that I've learned that may be helpful to your family.

Center yourself first. 

We all know that our children sense our moods and follow our lead, no matter their age or personality. I've found that if I spend time centering myself and getting my mood in a positive place BEFORE waking my children, that it can have a massive impact on the entire mood of the house. 

I now set my alarm just a bit earlier than I need to wake my oldest kids to get ready for school. Before even getting out of bed, I list things that I am grateful for(in my head, still cozy under the covers). I set a daily intention for a peaceful and happy day. Some days I do a very short yoga routine(I personally do Tara Stiles routines off of youtube), a short guided meditation or simply sit and have a cup of coffee in silence before my kids wake. What works for you could be anything that you enjoy that takes just a few minutes everyday. 

Be prepared. 

It seems obvious, doesn't it? Yet, we are so tired by bedtime that the idea of setting out outfits and lunches seems like the furthest thing in the world from what we want to do. I struggle with this but realize that if I do a few simple things in the evenings, such as packing lunches and placing them in the fridge(or at least figuring out which kids want hot or cold lunch), setting out outfits or reminding each child to pick out clothing and preparing each child for their day by going over their schedule(tests, quizzes, extracurriculars, etc) can make a MASSIVE difference in the morning.

Before bed, ensure that homework is done, bags are packed and the kids are ready for the upcoming day. One of my kids sometimes sleeps in the clothes that she is going to wear the next day so she can lay around in bed for a few more minutes in the morning. It works for her and no one knows this little secret of hers(well, at least no one did before I wrote it in this blog post!).

Have a routine of positivity

Are there things that put your children in a great mood? For my kids, it means a solid breakfast(which doesn't necessarily mean me cooking- it can be a low-sugar cereal with fruit), positive music and a low-stress morning. 

We have a playlist of positive, up-beat songs that we all like that we often listen to(and sing along with) on the way to school. It helps us view the day ahead from a place of positivity.

Allow a Buffer of Extra Time

If your mornings are constantly strained by time, even after preparing carefully the night before, you likely need to set that alarm back a little earlier. Yes, I hear your groan. It's already hard to get yourself and everyone else up at the crack of dawn, isn't it? You'd be surprised how much easier an extra 10 minutes can make in your morning routine. Of course, this also means that bedtime should be rolled back, too by the same amount of time. 

Place a List of Reminders Near the Door

Do you have a child(maybe ALL of your children) that is consistently forgetting something- gym shorts, their band instrument, the signed permission slip for the upcoming field trip? Make a list of reminders- which day they have band and gym, due dates for upcoming assignments, etc. to place on the front door so they can see it right before they run out the door for the bus. I started with a pretty white board on the door, but we've ended up using post-it notes just as often. You can make this as pretty as you want it, but it really is effective. We  also place things like band instruments by the door the night before so it is nearly impossible to forget them in the morning rush. 

Leave the Morning on a High Note

Make the last words to your children as they walk into school or rush out to the bus loving ones. I've recently noticed at school drop off that many parents are tuned into their phones and are missing this important moment. Just as we set the tone when we wake our children, we need to set the tone as they go into their day so that, upon reflection, the last memory of the morning will be a no-stress, loving moment with a parent. 

Get off of your phone. Put your own to-do list aside for a moment. It will all still be there when you are done. Hug your kids. Tell them you love them. Tell them what a great day they are going to have. Remind them that you can't wait to see them at the end of the day. 

Even if, with every tool in place, you had a rough morning you can still have this moment of peace and love with your child. After all, the days are long but the years are short. We blink and they grow up on us. It is in these little moments that we remind our children that, no matter the stress, we are in this together and they always have a loving place to fall- in your arms. 


  1. Great post, exactly how it needs to be with one or more kids. Great job.

  2. Valuable, practical advice. Margaretha

  3. I don't have kids at home now, but all this advice is still excellent for a stress free morning. I do a lot to prepare the night before but now thanks to one of your children (who will remain anonymous) I have a new strategy to stay in bed longer: sleeping in my clothes. Genius!

  4. It is stressful. I've actually always hated that trying to get started part of the day - I did when I was at school, then at work, and now I have to organise kids. It's not that I'm a groggy person in the morning, and I'm fine once the day is underway, but that motivation to do the relentless slog of getting everything ready for the day has always been lacking. When my kids are going to nursery, I do always have everything laid out the night before: outfits, lunches, breakfast things.